Answer Man

Pressed Into Service

With crosswalk buttons, you have the power.

Photo By Mike Boslet

Q: Are there any “placebo buttons’’ at crosswalks in Orlando?

A: Who hasn’t pressed the button to get a “walk’’ signal at an intersection and wondered: Do these things really work? In Orlando, all the buttons respond to the push of pedestrians, says city transportation engineer Charles Ramdatt. Contrast that with New York City, where many buttons have been disconnected because of more advanced traffic control systems. The relics remain up because the city can’t afford to take them down. And people still press them. For nothing.

There are 409 intersections in Orlando that have crosswalk buttons. Pressing them generally will bring up the “walk’’ signal more quickly with one exception: at rush hour. During those times, the need to keep traffic moving overrides the desires of pedestrians so no matter how many times you push, it’s not likely to make a difference.

Bottom line: If there’s a  button, press it—not only for safety, but because in remote areas or during low-traffic times, you may never get the walk signal unless you do. And you wouldn’t want to stand on a corner all night waiting for the light to change, would you?


Q: Why does McRib come and go at McDonald’s?

A: Introduced to Mickey D’s menu in 1981, the pork sandwich has appeared and disappeared at intervals ever since. When it is available, you can’t get it at every restaurant, although the latest promotion was nationwide; its three-week run ended Nov. 14.

It’s a pretty simple sandwich—a boneless pork patty served on a hoagie roll and topped with pickles, onions and barbecue sauce. (The pork has little humps to simulate ribs.) And it has a devoted following—people have been known to freeze them, and a guy in Ohio runs a “McRib locator blog.’’

So why not just keep it on the menu? Simple: Being deprived of something makes you want it more.

“We always want to keep people wondering about the McRib,’’ says Katelea Burkhart, McDonald’s spokeswoman for the Central Florida region. While it’s almost certain to reappear, we just don’t know when.

Answer Man launched an investigation into the Cult of McRib and discovered two things—it’ll never beat the Big Mac in taste, and it’s extremely hard to eat while driving. McRib is the ultimate slider, as in sliding out of the bun and onto a polo shirt. Bon appétit and pass the stain remover.

Answer Man welcomes your questions about the Orlando area. Send queries to

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